Business Owners Need a ‘Plan B’ for Retirement

Are small business owners too busy to think about retirement? That’s one take from a startling new report from BMO Wealth Management. It found only a fraction of the nation’s 28 million small business owners are prepared for retirement. For instance, 75 percent have saved less than $100,000 in retirement funds.


Small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees, represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms — employing almost half of all U.S. workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). So how is it that owners of these “little engines” that drive our economy are neglecting their own retirement?


To answer that question, we need to understand a bit about these business owners. Most established, successful business owners and professionals tend to fit in one of two camps:



Business owner type 1

Your business is your primary savings and retirement plan. You reinvest most of your profits into your business. You have confidence in your business, so you keep rolling the dice in the hopes of building your company and increasing your revenues.


Many business owners are banking on selling their businesses to retire, but that is a very risky proposition. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to sell your business for anything even close to what you think it’s worth — and you might not even be able to sell it at all.


Industries and markets get disrupted — sometimes overnight. The statistics about selling a business are sobering — only 20 percent of businesses listed for sale ever sell, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets it done, the IRS will take up to 45 percent of the sales price in taxes.


Business owner type 2

These individuals are more diversified outside of their business. Some may hold conventional retirement accounts such as a 401(k), IRA or profit sharing, college savings, real estate investments or cash stashed in a savings or money market account for fast access to capital.


Both types of business owners face risks associated with conventional investments and the risks of not being able to sell their business for what they expected.


The reality is that you’re doubling down on your risk by gambling with your money both inside and outside of your business. Regardless of which type best describes you, the critical question you should ask yourself is this — “What’s my ‘Plan B’ for my business?” How can you create a Plan B that will help you retire safely and securely? Start by asking what your retirement account be worth on the day you plan to tap into it? Most business owners cannot answer this question.

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Credits:  Pamela Yellen

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